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Uniform rule change draws support from coaches, administrators

HOULTON, Maine — Fans of high school sports will notice their favorite teams look a little bit different on the playing fields this year.

Under a new rule from the National Federation of State High School Associations, high schools are now required to swap their home and away jerseys.

Traditionally, in Maine, home teams would wear white as their “home” uniform and a solid color based on their school colors for away games. That process has now been swapped, with white being designated solely as the “away” color.

“That is a new NFHS rule and I think most coaches and AD (athletic directors) really like it,” said Tim Tweedie, Houlton varsity girls soccer coach and assistant principal at Houlton Middle-High School. “The driving force was the number of requests being made for “special” nights, like breast cancer awareness. It is always the home team that makes the request to wear the alternative color, so they thought the easiest solution was to simply flip the home and away.”

Houlton is one of those schools who, in recent years during soccer season, has requested to wear pink for a game in support of cancer patients. It also better aligns highs schools with how many professional and collegiate teams wear their uniforms.

“I also like the fact that teams get to now wear their primary school color at home,” Tweedie added.

Southern Aroostook Athletic Director Cliff Urquhart said that while he is more of a traditionalist, he can see the reasons behind the change.

“I certainly think the new changes can provide more of a school spirit atmosphere in terms of sporting your schools color during home games,” he said. “I think logistically it may throw off a player or two while packing for an away game and they bring the wrong color uniform. Also potentially an average fan who stops by to watch a game and can’t recognize who is home or away. I have had several people ask me why our teams were wearing purple during the preseason games. The change may take a couple years for people to fully understand and embrace.”

Katahdin Athletic Director Dylan Harris, who also coaches the varsity boys soccer team, said he likes the change.

“It takes away a lot of the paperwork from what I understand for when teams want to wear a special color,” he said. “I like the change myself. It gives us a chance to show off our school colors at home and our new red jerseys at home as well.”

Hodgdon boys soccer coach Jason Little said the biggest issue has been getting players to remember which color shirt to bring for home and away games.

“It isn’t too big of a deal, just lots of reminders for the players,” he said. “Although it is confusing, I do like the thought for teams that want to do a special ‘alternate jersey’ night to raise awareness for causes. This way they don’t have to worry about the color of the dark jersey.”

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